January 30, 2013 9:16 am

Edmonton parents weigh in on so-called ‘no zero’ policy

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 EDMONTON – Parents share their opinions with school trustees Tuesday night about a draft policy that governs how students are assessed and explicitly includes zeros as a possible grade.

Edmonton public school board chairwoman Sarah Hoffman and trustees Dave Colburn and Catherine Ripley are gathering feedback about the proposed policy on assessment, achievement and growth during a public teleconference from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

“With all of our policy reviews, we’re looking at what we think are the best practices out there and we’re trying to make sure that if there’s a lack of clarity around what’s intended in the policy, then we’re putting forward recommendations to help clear those up,” Hoffman said Tuesday afternoon.

Hoffman, Colburn and Ripley are on a school board policy review committee that is re-examining all Edmonton Public Schools policies. The student assessment policy review attracted considerably more attention than most reviews because of intense public debate that started last spring about whether teachers should be able to grade students with zeros for missed assignments and tests.

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That prompted the school board to expedite the review process for this policy, Hoffman said. Numerous school trustees are expected to listen to the public teleconference Tuesday, Hoffman said.

“I think this is something that everyone wants to make sure they’re well-versed in – in what’s being said and also what the literature says,” Hoffman said.

School trustees are also gathering public feedback through an online survey that closes on Thursday.

The draft assessment policy is much more detailed than the current version and mentions that students can receive “a range” of grades for their performance on individual assignments, including zeros.

“I think the policy is pretty clear in saying that staff are expected to create opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge. Students are expected to do their work, and that grades can range from D to A and 0 to 100 (per cent),” Hoffman said.

Approximately 1,300 people have responded to the online survey about the proposed policy, Hoffman said.

Public comments will be analyzed and the policy could be revised based on the feedback before a final version is approved. Regulations will have to be developed so schools can implement the policy.

The new policy could be in place by next fall, but there is no set deadline.

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